6.84 · 4,664 ratings · 329 reviews
Ivy and Bean Take Care of the Babysitter by Annie Barrows*** Warning: This review contains spoilers! ***
In this installment, the girls do not engage in any mean or disrespectful behavior (as they do in Books 1 and 2), but they do ignore safety, which is troubling.
I was pleased to see that in this book, Beans behavior is more measured, and sometimes is even chastised. Bean decides not to throw a rock at her sister because she knew better than that. Before playing with the mound of dirt in her friends yard, she first seeks permission from the babysitter. When shes rude to her mother, her mother admonishes her; when she says God in front of Nancy, Nancy tells her not to say it. I like the tone set by this book much better than the first 2, in which misbehavior goes mostly unpunished.
Unfortunately, there is still some of the inappropriateness that is found in the earlier books. Ivy talks about making a sacrifice to the gods, and I can just imagine that there might be some parents out there who arent ready to explain that phrase to their first-graders. Also, Bean makes a plan to climb out of her second-story bedroom window with a rope ladder. Thankfully, she is unable to procure a rope, but its never pointed out that it was a dangerous idea to begin with. She does manage to succeed in throwing a long, hooked metal pole out her window (!??!), which lands right at Ivys feet - and nothing is said of the potential for serious harm that could have been done to Ivy if the pole or hook had hit her.
As for the babysitting story itself - I have to admit, I think Nancy and Beans parents set the girls up for failure. They must have known Bean would resent Nancy being put in charge. I completely understood Beans frustration, especially because she was missing out on great fun at the neighbors house, and even more especially when Nancy started behaving badly herself (though Nancy did put in a good effort in the beginning). Honestly, knowing Bean and Nancy, I think the parents should have paid Bean $4 from the start, just to be good for Nancy.
Of course, having said that, there was no excuse for Bean going into the crawl space, which was explicitly off-limits for safety reasons. And just when I think Bean was going to learn a lesson about obeying rules, the lesson eludes her - she does the right thing by calling for Nancys help, but once she realizes that Nancy is genuinely frightened, instead of just sitting tight, she plays a trick on her! Its just that kind of behavior that exhausts someones good will - its hard to have sympathy for someone who needs help but is not cooperating with being helped. In the end, Bean and Ivy basically applaud themselves for getting away with their mischief.
And while some people will surely have a problem with Bean and Ivy getting paid to keep quiet, I actually liked that the girls talked it over among themselves, reasonably, and found a win-win-win solution for everybody. And I like that Nancy showed some maturity by reporting to her parents that she isnt really ready to babysit Bean.